The Seattle Dragons fell to 1-2 on Saturday, squandering a 12-6 halftime lead in an eventual 24-12 defeat to the Dallas Renegades. Here are three impressions from the Dragons’ first home loss of the season.
Seattle offense sputters
With 7:23 remaining in the first quarter on Saturday, Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers took a shotgun snap, drifted back in the pocket, set his feet and let ‘er rip. As he did, Silvers was simultaneously squashed by a trio of Dallas Renegades — the ball fluttering across the middle as he was slammed unceremoniously to the turf.
And, same as those Dallas defenders, the football found its target. Austin Proehl — a 5-foot-9, 182-pound wide receiver out of North Carolina — corralled it on the orange “A” that spelled out “DRAGONS” in the middle of the end zone to give Seattle an early 6-0 lead.
It’s true, Silvers had some success on Saturday — but very little came easy. The former Troy standout completed 21 of 33 passes for 204 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. That marks a statistical improvement for Silvers, who completed just 48.3% of his passes and threw for a total of 308 yards with four touchdowns and three picks in his first two games.
But is it enough? And do the Dragons’ offensive issues extend beyond their signal caller? This is still a Seattle offense largely lacking any semblance of explosiveness. It’s still an offense that consistently struggles to mount drives and maintain much positive momentum. It’s still an offense that noticeably misses injured wide receiver and UW alum Kasen Williams (or any other big-play threat).
Sure, the season is young. The franchise is young. Heck, the league is young. But Seattle’s offense needs answers. And on Saturday, Silvers’ meager improvement didn’t result in a second consecutive win.
Dragons defense feasts … for a while
Entering the season, Renegades quarterback Landry Jones was thought to perhaps be the face (and arm) of the XFL. There was certainly an argument to be made, considering his NFL pedigree.
But in the first half on Saturday, Seattle’s defense had its way. It intercepted Jones twice in the first two quarters, and defensive end Marcell Frazier added a strip sack of Jones in the fourth quarter as well.
Still, in the second half Jones finally found his rhythm. The former Oklahoma standout finished with 274 passing yards, to go along with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The back-breaker was a 65-yard touchdown pass to massive 6-8 tight end Donald Parham early in the fourth quarter that gave Dallas a 21-12 lead.
Linebacker Steven Johnson continues to be a stalwart for Seattle, and he contributed 14 tackles with two tackles for loss on Saturday. But, in the end, his defense wore down.
Enter the Bizarro World
Have you ever seen the episode of Seinfeld titled “The Bizarro Jerry,” where Elaine adopts a second friend group eerily comparable — and comically opposite — to the one we’ve come to know? In many ways, that’s the XFL game experience at CenturyLink Field.
Prior to a Dragons home game, a celebrity guest does not raise the 12 flag beyond the end zone, to the frenzied delight of a sold-out crowd. Instead, they light the cauldron. On Saturday, former Husky and Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard was handed a lit torch, and he set a large “Dragons” cauldron ablaze as the fans below waved their orange towels. During timeouts, the video board often employs a “Dragon Cam,” where it superimposes a dragon’s head over the head of a fan in the stands, and said dragon spews fire into the atmosphere. In fact, when it comes to the video boards and ribbon boards, fire — not rain — is the primary theme.
The official attendance on Saturday was 22,060, with the upper decks being entirely unattended. But it was still plenty loud, with a smattering of green and yellow dragon costumes spread throughout the crowd. Another fan in a track suit near the 20-yard line continued to dance throughout the game, inexplicably holding a head of broccoli in each hand as he swiveled his hips and unsurprisingly attracted the television cameras.
So, without a doubt, it didn’t resemble the games CenturyLink Field hosts on Sundays in the fall. It wasn’t bad, or uninteresting. But it was different.
The good news? Games in The Bizarro World are much less pricey to attend.